Opening archives won’t settle Pius XII wars

Whatever else Pope Francis’s decision Monday to open the archives from the pontificate of Pius XII in 2020 may mean, there’s one preliminary conclusion that seems take-it-to-the-bank, no-doubt-about-it, slam-dunk certain. Opening the archives will not – indeed, by definition, cannot – settle the historical controversy about Pius XII and his alleged silence during the Holocaust. That’s because the debate is counter-factual, pivoting not on what Pius did or didn’t do, but rather what he should have done.